Janine di Giovanni | Eve Arnold: Magnum Legacy

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The Magnum Legacy series explores the creative processes of Magnum photographers, from the agency’s founders to its contemporary members, through a mix of biographical text, archival materials, and iconic imagery. Little has been published about how the personal experiences of these renowned photographers shaped their commitment to telling stories. This series invites us to imagine their world on the other side of the lens.

Eve Arnold (1912 -- 2012) was born to a poor immigrant family in Philadelphia and became a photographer by chance. In 1950 Arnold was a 38-year-old Long Island housewife when she enrolled in a six-week photography course that led to her groundbreaking photo essay on black fashion models in Harlem. She went on to become the first woman to join Magnum Photos and, eventually, one of the most accomplished photojournalists of her time. Filled with reproductions of Arnold's acclaimed photographs, shot in both color and black-and-white, as well as previously unseen archival images, this biography relates Arnold's bold images to the fascinating story of their making. Renowned for her intimate portraits of figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X and Queen Elizabeth, Arnold was equally comfortable documenting the lives of the poor and dispossessed. "I don't see anybody as either ordinary or extraordinary. I see them simply as people in front of my lens." To her images of migrant workers, disabled veterans and protesters for civil rights in the US and against apartheid in South Africa, she brought an unflinching eye and a strong sense of social justice. This highly engrossing narrative tells a compelling story of an intrepid artist whose life's purpose was to report on the lives of others.